The program, in the town of Beloit, Wisconsin, drew few takers and much ridicule; it was quickly called off [Lowering the Bar]
In several 2010 posts we covered the story of Brian Aitken, who was imprisoned by the state of New Jersey simply for carrying unloaded guns and ammo in his trunk (really, that was the extent of the crime). Last week Cato hosted Aitken to talk on his new book The Blue Tent Sky: How the Left’s War on Guns Cost Me My Son and My Freedom. Tim Lynch of Cato moderated, and I gave comments. Event description:
In 2009 Brian Aitken, a media consultant and web entrepreneur, ran afoul of New Jersey’s draconian gun laws when he was arrested while transporting two handguns unloaded and locked in the trunk of his car. Despite the fact that Aitken owned the guns legally and had called the New Jersey State Police for advice on how to legally transport his firearms, he found himself sentenced to seven years in prison.
In 2010 New Jersey governor Chris Christie commuted Aitken’s sentence. But Aitken’s experience, like that of other law-abiding gun owners who’ve faced long prison sentences for honest mistakes, raises troubling questions about gun-law overreach, prosecutorial discretion, and judicial abdication.
I recommended the book as a riveting and outrageous read, yet leavened with hope because of the story of the strong public movement that formed to protest the injustice of his incarceration. In my comments, I mentioned the feds’ heavily armed raid on an Indiana antiquities collector. More on that story here.
The new lawsuit by the prominent Connecticut personal-injury firm of Koskoff, Koskoff, and Bieder [news coverage: WSJ Law Blog, CNN] seeks to get around the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act by latching on to the law’s narrow exception for “negligent entrustment.” That’s not a reasonable reading of the law, and I argue in a new post at Cato at Liberty that courts should toss attempts like these to revive gun control through litigation, all the more so because legislative attempts to overturn PLCAA (as I discussed last year) are rightfully going nowhere.
Some out there seem to think it’s okay to use litigation as a way of lashing out against opponents, whether by way of a winning case or not:
Newtown families sue gunmaker for massacre http://t.co/ZmbbAqd0lL good for them even tho may be dismd at least they take a swing at them
— Danny Wash (@danwash) December 15, 2014
More: “The Sandy Hook Families’ Lawsuit Against Bushmaster Will Fail. Here’s Why.” [Bob Adams, Bearing Arms] And Eugene Volokh’s analysis breaks down the provisions of PLCAA and its interaction with the specifics of Connecticut law, concluding that “unless there is some evidence that the defendant manufacturers and gun sellers in this case violated some specific gun regulations (judgments actually made by legislatures), plaintiffs’ claim will go nowhere — and rightly so, I think.” Yet more: Steve Chapman.
“Fox Business Network’s John Stossel interviews US Consumer Coalition’s Brian Wise and Kat O’Connor, owner of TomKat Ammunition LLC, on the Justice Department’s Operation Choke Point.” The Gaithersburg-based ammo seller was cut off from credit card processing services and suspects that the federal Choke Point program was the reason. [cross-posted from Free State Notes; earlier on Operation Choke Point].
NPR’s This American Life digs into some bizarrely counterproductive sting tactics by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, which might have gone unchallenged had the bureau not stiffed a Milwaukee landlord badly enough to provoke him into taking his story to Journal Sentinel reporter John Diedrich. “The whole effort has resulted in some attempts to actually disband the entire ATF, which might not be such a bad idea.” BATF is part of the U.S. Department of Justice. [Mike Masnick, TechDirt citing Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and This American Life; earlier on stash house entrapment]
Aware of New York City’s penchant for prosecuting persons found in possession of knives commonly used in construction and design work, sculptor Jonathan W. “therefore chose the Spyderco UK Penknife… a non locking, slip joint folder, which should have been in the clear. But that wasn’t good enough for the NYPD (who arrested him), the DA (who charged him), or even his public defender (who recommended he plead guilty).” [The Truth About Knives] Earlier on NYC’s crazy “gravity-knife” law here and here.
- Department of surreal headlines: “Detroit Mayor’s Office Disappointed With UN’s Stance on Water Shutoffs” [MLive.com via Deadline Detroit, earlier on customers who don’t pay Detroit water bills]
- “When Mr. Bond first impregnated Mrs. Bond’s best friend, the international Chemical Weapons Convention was probably the furthest thing from his mind.” [Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz, Cato Supreme Court Review (PDF), earlier on Bond v. U.S.]
- A case against including investor/state protections in trade negotiations [Daniel Ikenson, Cato] Issue leading leftists, libertarians separately to discover merits of sovereigntism? [Julian Ku, Opinio Juris]
- Survey of rapidly changing field of transnational antiquities law [ABA Journal]
- Canada, like U.S., gets periodic U.N. tongue-lashing over its relations with Indian tribes/native peoples [Kathryn Fort, ConcurOp]
- With U.S. isolated on firearms issues, U.N.’s contemplated Programme of Action on Small Arms not quite so innocuous [Ted Bromund, more, earlier here, here, here, and here]
- “The U.S. government should be careful about entering into new international agreements and treaties precisely because international laws do have legal force.” [Jason Sorens, Pileus]
If so, you’d never guess from the result in the Maryland governor’s election, I argue at Cato at Liberty.
- The Framers knew what they were doing: don’t abolish midterm elections [John O. McGinnis, Law and Liberty]
- Rhode Island has elected a new Democratic governor, Gina Raimondo, with public-employment reformist credentials. But is it ready to fix its structural barriers to economic growth? [Aaron Renn, City Journal; more from Renn at Urbanophile here, here, and here; a different view from Justin Katz, Anchor Rising]
- New Andy Pincus paper for U.S. Chamber on government-agency “litigation swarm” tactics [Institute for Legal Reform, more]
- Guns ‘n’ strippers: when happens when FOIA/public records requests run into Bill of Rights concerns [Eugene Volokh]
- “Three Convicted of Conspiracy to Defraud Gulf Oil Spill Fund” [FBI]
- New book by Judge Robert Katzmann on statute-drafting [James Maxeiner, Common Good]
- TCPA: “L.A. Lakers ‘Showtime’ Threatened by Class Action Over Text Messages” [Faces of Lawsuit Abuse]
Throwing its Chicago regional director under the bus, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has disavowed a February 2013 letter in which the director had told an Ohio bank, “It is our view that payday loans are costly, and offer limited utility for consumers, as compared to traditional loan products … Consequently, we have generally found that activities related to payday lending are unacceptable for an insured depository institution.” Critics have charged that the federal government has not been forthright about the extent to which it discouraged banks from providing services to lawful but frowned-on businesses in such lines as payday lending and ammunition sales. [Kevin Funnell, earlier on Operation Choke Point]